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|Title:||Interview with Kyle Hebert|
|Published:||Sat, 22 Sep 2012|
During a sunny Saturday at Alcon, I was enjoying the entertainment that was offered there, including the varied panels that went on throughout the day. One panel that I went to in the afternoon was ‘Roast of Dragonball Evolution with Kyle Hebert,' in which he decided to parody the Hollywood movie in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 style of humour. It was a very entertaining and funny panel that I really enjoyed.
After the panel, I was very privileged to interview Kyle Hebert. Most know him for his voice actor roles in popular anime such as Dragonball Z and Gurren Lagann. In this interview we discuss voice acting, the new Dragonball Z movie, nostalgic anime and cartoons.
Thank you for doing this interview Kyle. I grew up watching Dragonball Z much like many other people around the world; it’s very exciting for me to get to interview you.
Kyle Hebert: Thank you so much.
Looking at your voice actor roles, you have been a part of so many, from Dragonball Z’s Adult Gohan and Narrator, Gurren Lagann’s Kamina, to recent roles such as Ryuji from Blue Exorcist; how does it feel to still be an anime voice actor?
Kyle Hebert: It’s great because it started with me being a fan; in the 1970s I would watch things like Speed Racer, Star Blazers, and Battle of the Planets which was Gatchaman in Japanese, then Robotech in high school. I never thought I would actually be a part of that industry; I’ve always wanted to be a cartoon voice actor and that’s why I’ve since moved to LA from Dallas. I’ve gotten to be a part of Street Fighter and more shows of Naruto, Bleach and Gurren Lagann.
My Street Fighter stuff led to a cameo for Wreck-It Ralph which I’m super psyched for anyway because I think the movie looks fabulous (check the awesome movie trailer here) but yeah, it’s such a really fun adventure to get to be a voice actor in a show or in that type of voice work where you see the finished product already on the screen. If you did a cartoon or video game, you're kind of in a bubble, you’re in a little vacuum where you don’t really know what the final product is going to look like.
The perk to anime dubs is - it’s finished, you see what your character is on screen, you're kind of constricted because you have to match the lip-sync and it’s a very technical skill. You might get some celebrities who will come in and do dubs for the Miyazaki films and they always comment on how hard it is and it’s unfortunate that the industry as a whole doesn’t seem to value dubs. It pays very poorly but yet it’s the hardest kind of voice work there is but I’m really honoured and flattered that I get to be a part of it all and I work with a great community of actors, wouldn’t change a thing, I hope to keep doing it forever.
You touched on one of the questions I was going to ask next: what was your first introduction to anime, was it through voice acting or did you catch it on TV?
Kyle Hebert: Yeah, anime and Looney Toons honestly, just watching cartoons – Bugs Bunny and all of that, that kind-of helped plant the seed, learning that Mel Blanc who voiced all those characters, he was able to make those characters come alive and gave Porky Pig the speech impediment, Bugs Bunny is this wise-cracking rabbit from the Bronx, and Foghorn Leghorn is a Southern gentlemen who is kind of a buffoon and all this stuff. Even though the voice may somewhat be similar you can still say – OK, that’s still a very unique character. None have really come close to that ever since.
There are people in the industry that I still greatly admire today, like Billy West from Futurama, Maurice LaMarche, Rob Paulsen who did Pinky and The Brain and Animaniacs.
I remember last year at the MCM Expo, we had a Futurama Panel with some of the voice actors.
Kyle Hebert: That’s great; the cast is super, super talented.
What do you think of UK conventions compared to American ones?
Kyle Hebert: I notice the same level of passion and just a general sense of community. It’s great that you’ve seen people all get together for a common sort of interest and whether it's sub or dub or whatever, the love of Japanese culture is very much alive and I love the fact that people can come together and not be judged for the weekend, they can be themselves and be around their friends, meeting new people and just get away from some of the judgemental stuff out there and they can come here to have a great time.
This has been another wonderful experience for me. One of my favourite perks in voice acting is getting to tour around America and across the globe like here in England, Canada, Australia and just meet the fans all over. There’s just this sense of gratitude, passion, excitement and energy that kind of helps what I do and continue to want to get back to the fans and it’s great to be a fellow fan alongside.
I saw that you had a 3DS; it has a worldwide Streetpass feature, how is that filling up?
Kyle Hebert: Yeah, I love the streetpass part; I have over 1200 streetpasses collected because of all the cons I go to. Some of my friends in America are a little jealous that I’ve unlocked people from Japan, England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and everywhere. It’s one of the fun things that I love about the 3DS, the social aspect, whether you meet the people or not - you’re collecting the Miis, so much fun.
Going back to Dragonball Z, we are finally getting the series released over here and with only two box sets out so far, it’s selling really well. Why do you think Dragonball Z is still popular around the world, after all these years?
Kyle Hebert: I think in any sort of story that has great characterization, development and depth, that helps transcend the generations and I think the people that grew up on it in the 80s and 90s with Dragonball and all that, now they’re starting to have families and they're introducing that generation to it. I think that’s fantastic.
A good story is going to cross the generation gap, whether it’s Disney or Pixar, great literature or animation. The fabulous artwork and stylings of manga/anime have really come over and taken the world by storm; even your general Saturday morning cartoon didn’t have the depth that anime had. As a kid growing up in the 70s, the word ‘anime’ didn’t exist yet, I just knew that I could tell, looking back on it, it’s like the animation was far more detailed than your average cartoon and the characters had a bigger story arc and it seemed more detailed and interesting, something like Cowboy Bebop, one of my all- time favourites, something that can transcend the art form. I’ve turned some friends of mine that don’t watch anime at all and they fell in love with Cowboy Bebop and same for Full Metal Alchemist.
You get good characters and a good story, it’s going to go beyond the media of which it’s made and really speak to a new audience.
What do you think of the new Dragonball Z movie that was recently announced a few months ago?
Kyle Hebert: So far they haven’t talked about it being licensed to do a dub, hopefully they will because the Dragonball audience is very much still alive and well, they still sell lots of DVD’s and Blu-rays, I think that’s never going to go away, so hopefully Funimation will be able to work out some sort of deal and I would love to come back, as I noticed Teen Gohan is in there. I don’t know if I would come back as the Narrator or not, because they had Dragonball Z Kai, which was the new reinterpretation of the remastered Z series and they had a different Narrator and that was mainly because I don’t live in Texas anymore and I would have had to fly back to Texas on my own, it’s not feasible financially, so I didn’t get to do that but Chris Sabat who directed most of the dub of Z, voicing Vegeta and Piccolo, told me that if Teen Gohan ever comes back in Kai, if it was resurrected - because it’s cancelled for now - but if they come back and decided to do the Majin Buu saga, I would get to come back as Gohan, so hopefully, fingers-crossed, we will see some more licensing going on.
One thing that interested me is not only are you a professional voice actor but you also take the time to lend your voice to parodies and flash animations, how did that come about?
Kyle Hebert: I get approached by a lot of people who are generally interested. It’s like - I want a professional on my project -that makes them look good and makes them seem a lot more professional and then I like reaching out, 'cause I understand that, people. Especially in the internet age, it’s easier to get content out there but obviously if you can get whatever help you can from industry people to help push it out there a little bit more, get a bit more well known and I understand the uphill battle of people trying to say “Well, I have a new flash animation”, well yeah, so do a thousand people or even more and the worldwide audience of YouTube and Newgrounds.
I will do cameos for people's fan projects and other cameos for free because people don’t have budgets to pay for things, so that’s usually a compromise I’ll make. I’ll say, “Give me a few lines and I’ll do it for free, but if you want to get me along as a main character, I do this for a living so you’re going to have to pay, I’m afraid".
Was there any anime series that you wish you could of work on?
Kyle Hebert: Everything I’ve tried out for. I’ve tried out for Avatar: The Last Airbender, I’ve tried out for Clone Wars, I read for Ichigo on Bleach but I think honestly Johnny Bosch does a wonderful job with that, and I don’t want to take anything away from any of the casting decisions cause everyone’s just knocked it out of the ballpark.
Honestly as an actor, any audition is worth its weight in gold 'cause I’ve been heard by people and whether I get the part or not, at least they know I exist and hopefully they’ll keep me in mind for something on the line, so if I’m not in the main cast, then maybe they’ll call me six months later and have me do an episodic character. Like Tiger and Bunny; I think I tried out for things, didn’t get any of the main guys but I got a smaller role, it all worked out.
Last question, if you had collected all seven earth Dragonballs right here, what would you wish for?
Kyle Hebert: Oh man, completely selfish from a career standpoint, I would bring back Mel Blanc and I would want to work with him. I would love to just be a fly in the wall really, to watch him in the recording sessions because I’ve heard audio outtakes and it’s just brilliant, to see the master at work; it would be beyond inspirational to me.
I would like to thank Kyle Hebert and the Alcon staff for setting up this interview.
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